March media round-up

What I consumed in March 2021.

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Heaven's Design Team vol 1-2 with Hebi zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako

A comic about the design department for the animals that exist in the world. It's really funny/cute/informative. I like the idea of a how different personalities end up designing animals to their taste hahaha. I like how proud Pluto is of her "cute" designs even though everyone else thinks they're super messed up. I enjoyed seeing all the strange hybrid animals they came up with. I am pleased to gather more animal facts. Also all the quips about working as a designer with unreasonable clients hit me hard, too real.

Dorohedoro vol. 1 by Q. Hayashida

A world where sorcerers are make monsters out of humans, so some humans are now fighting sorcerers...This comic's setting is casually hyper-violent, but somehow not in a way that I find myself needing to turn away from the page. It seems like there's a good balance of cool and powerful characters of all genders too. They've set up enough intrigue in vol.1 to makes me want to see what's going to happen! The fantastical-nature of the world also means there's a lot of unexpected things happening.

Ran and the Gray World vol.1 by Aki Irie

A comic about a young girl, living with her family, who all seem to have magical powers of some sort. A lot of folks were talking up the artist/author's drawings so I tried out the book. I feel as though the story itself was somewhat too ambiguous and meandering. People appeared in a very random fashion. I feel "maybe" about continuing this; the mom's plot actually seems more interesting than the main character's plot. Something about the main character's naivety really triggers my stranger danger senses.

A Man and his Cat vol. 1-3 by Umi Sakurai

Extremely wholesome stories about a suit-wearing old man and his cat. Three of my greatest weaknesses. Just missing glasses. Mix of short stories and strips. As the volumes go on, you dig deeper into both the man and the cat's past.

My Brother's Husband vol. 1-2 omnibus [end] by Gengoroh Tagame

A solid story that makes you sad and hopeful at the same time about LGBTQA+ relationships in Japan.

Yakuza 6 (2021 PC release)

THE END OF THE KIRYU SAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHH!! I liked a lot of the in-between antagonists in this game like Someya and Han Joon-gi (not so much the end game ones). The letter killed me because I wasn't expecting the recipient. I feel like Akimiya's face wasn't as good as it was in previous games? Or entering weird uncanny valley not fully-lip-synched territory. The battles/game play on easy mode were exceptionally easy, so I blew through the main plot in ~20 hours. Kiryu smiles a lot more and it is moderately unsettling. Well now I can start plotting my Yakuza zine...

Blue Period vol. 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

A story about changing life/career/hobby aspirations towards art. The main character is a student who mainly focuses on academics in high school, but stumbles upon some sense of authenticity when he paints a scene from within his memory. The author has this wiggly way of drawing certain characters. Somehow the artwork feels very intense at times! A glimpse into art school and academics in Japan.


Love Love Hill is having a free shipping promo for any orders over $20 for our self-published comics and zines! A bunch of us are moving, so any support to decrease our box weight is greatly appreciated~

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Some life updates:

  • HWAnimation snow scene feels like i finished it 10 years ago.
  • HWA vol.1 was literallly finished a year ago (ish).
  • I did my taxes for 2020.
  • I'm back at work full time and it has taken up all my energy.
  • I got to try out Cosmo Air Light paper! Unexpected find at the University of Waterloo store...someone there must be a fountain pen nerd.
  • Got a handful of fountain pen ink samples from Wonder Pens and a new Pilot Kakuno in pink/white colourway (which is now my Pinkey pen and filled with pink ink)
  • Watching at least 2 friends descend deeper into fountain pen/ink fever, hahaha

Today's music post: Domestic Music For Skeptical Dogs by Gavsborg

February 2021 media round-up

What I played/read/watched in February 2021.

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I ended up reading a lot of manga because I discovered how much the library ebook/overdrive system had. The nice thing about manga for me, is that it reads a lot quicker than just text-based books. As usual, vague spoilers may be found below.

Yakuza 5

The theme of this game was very heavily focused on dreams (the aspirational type, not sleeping ones). I really wasn't sure how the baseball man's plot would link up to it all, but it was satisfying to see it come together. I laughed at random naked workouts...I am in disbelief at the secret marriage. I wonder if they ever made that fountain pen a limited edition item that fans could buy!?

Part 1: I think there's a new contender for biggest himbo in the series: Watase?! I'm much more into Kiryu's uniform. I am very bad at racing but laughed at the very obvious eurobeat music that comes with the minigame.

Part 2: Saejima's crop cut YEA! I laughed really hard at his fist pumping and injections during karaoke. Gross inmate sticking fingers into wound NO! Baba's volatile feelings...! I was very close to gameover-ing during this snowmobile scene. I can't believe the anti-social old snow man has clothing in Saejima's size and style by accident HAHA. I got trapped running away from bears.

Part 3: Haruka had some pretty hilarious ponytail physics going on, and her L-shaped bum wiggle dance move makes me laugh. I'm very bad at the dance battles because it requires another level of button coordination that I don't have. I got really into the idol part because I didn't want to lose to those other idols. I was really DNW about Park at the beginning but of course she makes me cry later...!!!!

Part 4: I recognize Aikawa Show from Odoru Daisousasen / Isseifubi SEPIA hahaha. I also unknowingly gameover-ed at because it was in the middle of a cutscene but then suddenly I had to push a very specific button to do a very specific thing that was critical to the plot...!

I thought that the plot twist at the very end was kind of unnecessary! I wanted an ended with old men cheering at an idol concert instead. The game tried (?) to be all stealth with secret characters, but I could tell who they were from their voices and overall appearance, haha. I feel like I can write autobio reaction zine about this series, but only after i play more substories and Y6 later in March...

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

This book reads like an extended meandering rant, but I don't mean that in a bad way. I think it's more like if you had a meal with a friend you haven't seen in years, and the book is like the script of that what that friend told you. Much of it is relatable if you come from a background that overlaps with her. She makes a reference to Trinh T. Minh-Ha's "Speaking Nearby" which I didn't know about before, but found it to be a good articulation of how to still be a creative and include other experiences that you don't personally have.

Yuzu the Pet Vet vol. 1 by Mingo Ito

The comics were serialized in Nakayoshi and then compiled into a volume. I had a feeling that I would cry really bad since it's about a vet clinic, but I was also convinced that since it's targeted towards young girls maybe it would be more happy-go-lucky, but I was wrong. I was hit with pets dying of old age, cancer, dementia, etc. which ultimately made me cry, but they're all good tears. The stories aren't super deep, but they are indeed wholesome. A lot of cute animals too!

Behind the Scenes!! vol.1 by Bisco Hatori

The last time I touched any of Bisco Hatori's work was Ouran Host Club eons ago, so I thought I'd try this series out. There's a lot going on in the comic panels...so much freaking out. I find it hard to sympathize/empathize with these extremely low confidence characters with a lot of skill/talent. The setting of the series is interesting (university/college prop/setting/staging/art club for movies and films) but I wasn't sure where the series was going; specifically I don't feel "hooked" after reading one volume!

Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey vol.1 by Akiko Higashimura

I've heard great things about Akiko Higashimura's work (Princess Jellyfish, etc.). I even watched a Manben episode (hosted by Naoki Urasawa) with her in it, but haven't read any of her work until now. This is autobio about her artistic journey, starting from when she was in highschool, trying to apply to art colleges/universities. Her overconfidence was really surprising...but ultimately in reflection I can tell that she really valued her strict art teacher's lessons. I definitely want to continue reading this, to see her relationship and feelings evolve.

Crocodile Baron vol.1 by Takuya Okada

Like a lot of other food-related manga, there is always a trope where they eat a thing and then make an exaggerated comparison to something else. I was a bit weirded out about how the crocodile is very crocodile looking while a lot of the other mammals seem to be more...human/manga-eye-d? In particular the rabbit companion is a very unappealing leech-type character. The art is well done but I don't think there is much substance otherwise to keep me going on another volume.

The Delinquent Housewife vol.1 by Nemu Yoko

Since I read The Way of the Househusband, I figured I could read the reverse situation, where a woman who sucks at housekeeping, becomes a housewife, and tries to hide her delinquent / bosozoku background from her soon-to-be-in-law family. I like how the little sister's nefarious acts are being countered by the seemingly innocent grandpa. I'll probably continue this series!

Ninth Floor (2015)

Mina Shum directed documentary film about the Sir George Williams event in Quebec, 1969, where black students and their allies occupied the 9th floor of a Sir George Williams university (now Concordia) building because of non-action from the university administration about racism charges against a white university professor, Perry Anderson. According to wiki it was the largest occupation in Canadian history! It's always embarrassing (and telling) how nobody ever teaches this stuff in Canada education system. I am also ignorant (hence why I've been trying to learn and listen more) so ultimately I'm glad to have watched this. Artistically, the shots were all quite interesting and purposefully chosen.

Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! vol.1-2 by Yuu Toyota

The series was recommended by Kendra (though I suppose it might've been the live action tv show) so I decided to check it out at the library. It's pretty wholesome, cute, and guilty pleasure BL manga fluff hahahaha so no complaints!! I think Kurosawa's hidden train of thought is very similar to Austin's hahaha. The long-game persistent pining is strong with that one!

Witch Hat Atelier vol.7 by Kamome Shirahama

Ouuu more of Quifrey's background is revealed...! That part where he pulls down the hat...!!!!!! SO SNEAKY!!!


Today's music post: Sickboy by 카코포니(cacophony). I like the bond-esque drama in this song!

January media round-up

What my eyes saw Dec 2020/January 2021

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The Way of the House Husband 1-4 by Kousuke Oono (2019-ongoing)

This is a comic series about a legendary guy who quits yakuza to become a house husband. All the yakuza-adjacent men are very over the top and intense. Detailed well drawn funny comics...read extremely fast. It feels like a pity that it's so well drawn (nearly every panel has an amazingly detailed background that doesn't distract?!) but as a reader you move through the comedic panels so quickly that you don't really stop to appreciate the labour that goes into the visual part. The weird side cat comics were very amusing to me, haha. There's a part where there's a roach that climbs onto Miku's anime figure, and I felt that really hard.

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole (2020)

I watched the CBC gem, a while back. I wasn't sure if the book was going to overlap the CBC gem documentary (?), but it doesn't. The CBC gem feels like it's exploring blackness and vulnerability in a different structure/timeline. The book itself is paced across a year in Toronto, presenting life stories about specific black individuals or communities in Canada. I appreciated more knowledge about policing and incarceration in schools and immigration system. It was written in a way that felt more personal and human. A succinct read that can be done in a few hours, but probably longer if you wanted to take notes and process and along the way. Ultimately I think reading this will help me develop a stronger opinion on several racial and judicial topics at a government level.

Witch Hat Atelier 1-6 by Kamome Shirahama (2019-ongoing)

A comic series about a girl who wants to become a witch! Ummmmmmm so cute wholesome beautiful relatable even if they're all children...I appreciate that these kids are feeling all their feels in a vulnerable and raw way and are allowed to do that without any adults hushing them. Also ridiculously beautiful drawn! I'll be following the series because there are many mysteries to be uncovered! I think this series would be great for many ages...

Redline (2009)

What an interesting animation...? I wasn't really into the actual plot or characters at all (there isn't much plot or depth), but it did some very interesting and exaggerated animation shots and angles. I've read that it's a case of animation for the sake of animation (there's a lot of happening on screen, everything moves!) so it is impressive, from a technical point of view, how much effort and attention to detail was put into the movie. The character designs were really something else, as in, many of the non-human races weren't conventionally attractive and took a while for my eyeballs to get used to. Some of them reminded me of Macross' Zentradi. IMO the movie itself was squarely male-gazey, which is simply not my cup of tea, though it could be fine for others. I'm a bit shocked at how it ended (that font!) since I thought it was a ending that the in-movie broadcasting system made, but it was...not haha.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (2018)

A memoir by Austin Channing Brown, a black woman who was given the name Austin for both familial reasons and broader systemic ones. I knew I was in for a good ride when the first chapter was titled "White people are exhausting" haha. Although the author calls out whiteness prominently in the book, I felt that it was also essential for non-black POC like myself to check on their own anti-black biases and behaviours. The book has many truth bombs that were familiar and validating to me (from my own observations and experiences with white people). There was an element of whiteness in faith and christian institutions that I didn't come across as prominently in some of my other readings, so it was interesting to learn about that perspective as. I have personally (but differently) felt oppression or injustice in organizations and have been "reprimanded" for speaking out about it. The tiredness and hopelessness is likely a universal feeling for many BIPOC, but I did find comfort in her description of living and loving in the shadow of hope—still engaging and showing up for justice, even when you have no idea if what you're doing is going to make a difference (i.e., keep working in the dark).

Doing nothing was no longer an option for me.

I finished reading the memoir in about 4 hours in one sitting, so topic aside, it was written very clearly and easy to move through the book at steady and interested pace!

Yakuza 3 and 4 (remastered, 2019-2020)

I blitzed through the plot in 4 days on easy mode. I only play easy mode. It was the first time I played with a gamepad (thanks Bea) so it took a lot of adjustment. I still can't click the right buttons to activate the correct moves because I don't have that muscle memory. I still play karaoke with keyboard because it's easier! I honestly don't know how people can play the series without starting from the beginning, since there is a lot of lore that you miss out on without the prior story (or substory) context.

There could be some vague spoilers below, so read at your own risk...

After playing more of these games I've come to notice the patterns in plot and fights, hahaha Naked men, rooftops, simultaneous matching punches/kicks/jumps, deception and betrayal, crying, conveniently timed yet selective gun shots, attempts to redeem bad guys, turning your back on the enemy and getting literally backstabbed, etc. All of these games need more MAJIMA GORO.

Yakuza 3

There was a literal and figurative "cop out" at the very beginning that was very disappointing, but I enjoyed the rest of the plot. I cried soooooo much, especially because of all the orphanage-related kid feelings (so raw!). The beginning is very much like a "dad" simulator, hehe. I spent a lot of time taking care of my kids. Tamashiro is the worst and I hate him!! I could've gotten more into Mine if he had more air time. The American's voice actor and pronunciation of "roof" as "ruff" was peculiar, as well as why anyone would tell a stranger that they have "beautiful eyes" when you just shot someone they knew?

Yakuza 4

I don't think I cried at all in Y4, but it felt like a longer game because of the rotation of playable characters. Akimiya's legs are so fast...I also feel like he is maybe the only one that really uses his brain, while Saejima and Kiryu have more bushido and gokudo-esque sense of "righteousness" which often results in brawn over brains. There was something about the distance between Tanimura's eyeballs that bothered me; he and Kiryu look more fake to me than Saejima and Akimiya! I wasn't convinced I could forgive Hamazaki after Y3 but he did the team a solid. I discovered that Katsuragi more or less is a Japanese-looking version of Lunge from Monster. Y4 resolves/brings together a lot of plot from Y0 and Kiwami 1-2. I thought Saejima's plot was the most interesting because of the historical nature of his story. I really despised the prison warden!

What's coming up next?

I have to slow down on reading/watching since I want to "finish" the HWAnimation snow scene in the next few months.

I began mirroring posts from this freetalk, onto Pillowfort, but Pillowfort is down for a while! Thank goodness I have my own space...


Today's music post: Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar) by Flying Lotus.

November and December 2020 media round up

What I read during November and December 2020

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They said this would be fun by Eternity Martis

This is an unfiltered memoir about Eternity's 4 years attending Western university (a predominantly white campus) as a racialized person. I must admit that my own university experience was extremely uneventuful compared to hers. I was and continue to be a non-drinker, non-party-er, and non-social person!! I found myself wanting to pull her outta all the toxic situations she found herself in, and that she eventually finds more opportunities to stay true to herself, and love herself more.


Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

This was some much needed-reading on my part because I am soooooooooo unknowing about disability-related experiences. The format of the book is short writings/essays/stories by different authors, organized in loose themes. I appreciated how intersectional the book was through its inclusion of a wide variety of stories and writers from different backgrounds. I am grateful to this book for introducing me to more voices, and so much more...it's just the tip of the iceberg, re: how much I need to learn.


Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

I first saw this book because it was recommended on Wonderpens...but honestly had no real idea about what it was about and just added it to my HOLDS in my library account. There was a 8+ week hold, due to its popularity. As a plant lover and a (former?) scientist, I was pleased to find out that there is a big plant component to the book! You can really feel the author's passion and respect for all things living: the descriptions of her experiences and relationship and JOY that she feels when she is in the moment, observing and respecting nature. I also like the critique of English language and science, and how it others humans from all other living things, which is fundamentally different from how many Indigenous cultures associate with the world. She also wrote about her struggles to reconcile the feelings of gratitude/reciprocation and science/traditional ways of thinking and living. I thought that it offered a fairly clear viewpoint about our paths forward: we've done a lot of damage, and merely stopping the damaging isn't going to help; we have to work on restoring our relationship with mother earth. I will think hard about my gifts, and how I can reciprocate back to nature.

The book felt long to read; I think this is driven by the fact that (a) my book was almost overdue and I was in a mad scramble near the end, and (b) the author finishes her chapters with extremely eloquent closure/lessons statements, so it gave me the false impression MULTIPLE TIMES that I was done reading/the book was over (I'm reading an ebook copy from the library), but NOPE there was still more to go! I'm grateful that I had time to really think deeply about what I read in this book.


Today's music post: Inuugannuk by Terry Uyarak.

October 2020 media round-up

What I read during October 2020

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Honey & Clover 1-10 by Chica Umino (2000-2006)

Ahh, coming of age, self discovery, multiple love triangles (in all senses of love), and art school woes, coupled with beautiful artwork that seems both effortless, beautiful, and hilarious. I gotta say that I got so many Wai vibes from the art/expression/paneling (especially the exaggerated freak out parts). So if you like Wai's work, you'll probably like H+C, vice versa. The way that the title "honey and clover" is woven into the ending was chef's kiss.

The author draws herself as the best bear ever in her freetalk!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freetalk goals!!!!

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle (2020)

I listened to the ebook narrated by the author, which I've never done before, but it's quite effective because I could hear her passion in the delivery of her words. She uses a caged/zoo-born cheetah as an analogy at the beginning of the book that is carried throughout the prose. I'm about to butcher it:

The cheetah in the zoo has never been in the "wild" before. She has a Labrador dog best friend as a role model. As a performance for the visitors of the zoo, the dog first demonstrates running after a dirty pink bunny plush down a race course track. Later on, the cheetah does the same, but does it much faster and is rewarded with a store-bought steak for her performance/obedience.

The cheetah is a representation of a creature who has never been let out into the wild, who has their path pre-forged for them, and who follows that path for a sub-par reward at the end. BUT, when placed back in her enclosure, the cheetah begins to show more instinctive/wild preying and stalking. There's more energy and sparkle in her eyes. Something innate in her, that has been suppressed. Tamed.

The book itself talks about forging your own path, rather than the path that was defined/given for you (e.g., following the dirty pink bunny), thus the title of the book, untamed. I was concerned about the title feeling cheesey (e.g., RAWRR FIERCE GIRL POWER!!!) but the way the analogy is used, is very effective. Although she addresses untaming primarily from a women's POV, but it can also apply to any person.

The author breaks away from being a devout/traditional christian living a straight life with husband and kids, to living and building a life with a female partner. The book has several examples of how she tried to "untame" herself in a lot of different contexts, primarily by:

  • looking inwards instead of looking at what is already out there (before the world told you who to be) and
  • living from imagination (instead of indoctrination).

In particular she addresses being called a racist (as a white woman) and describes how we fundamentally live in a racist world, where we're taught to be racist, so yes, in fact, we are all racist, and need to actively try to unlearn it.

Overall I think it's a worthwhile book to read if you always felt like there's was something about your life that feels unsatisfying, because you did what was expected of you. Personally I think I've been untaming for a while now, so I'm glad this book exists for those who haven't strayed off their indoctrinated path (yet).


One Native Life by Richard Wagamese (2009)

As we all know, the recent news about our indigenous relations in Canada is pretty terrible, on top of being historically awful.

Richard's book was meant to be positive and introspective, specifically written to help heal and reclaim his identity as a displaced Ojibwe child who was tossed into the foster/adoption system, because his parents/family suffered trauma from residential schools, and couldn't necessarily be parents. The book itself is written as micro short stories (a few pages each), compiled in 4 themes within the book, so it was an easy read. Could easily be picked up and down without losing your place. I think I read it in about 4 hours straight.

Richard was put into a foster and adoption homes of white people since ~5 years old. He shared a lot of stories about not belonging/being heard, learnings and heroes along the way, and overcompensating with wearing super native things (e.g., having long hair) when he tried to reconnect with his native side in his 20s. It was interesting to me that there are specific camps and retreats that exist purely for people like him, who were displaced, to relearn and reclaim their native lifestyle. The existence of such camps/retreats speaks to the historical erasure and genocide of their culture at the hands of settlers/colonizers. A lot of stories about native lives are ones of anger, injustice, and despair, so knowing that positive reflection (while acknowledging the historical issues) can still be a path forward, feels important.


What's coming up?

Hopefully:

Today's music post: Window by Midori Komachi. The song itself is kind of peaceful but kind of uncertain at the same time, which feels appropriate as it is from I hope this finds you well in these strange times – Vol. 1, an on-going and multi-artist album compilation made for the COVID-19 crisis.